IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776 The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America hen in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for onepeople to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assumeamong the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature andof Natures God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that theyshould declare the causes which impel them to the separation.We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowedby their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and thepursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men,deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form ofGovernment becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or toabolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles andorganizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety andHappiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not bechanged for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankindare more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing theforms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuinginvariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it istheir right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for theirfuture security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now thenecessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of thepresent King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in directobject the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts besubmitted to a candid world.He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unlesssuspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he hasutterly neglected to attend to them.He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unlessthose people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimableto them and formidable to tyrants only.He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from thedepository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance withhis measures.He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness hisinvasions on the rights of the people.He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, wherebythe Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for theirexercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion fromwithout, and convulsions within.He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing theLaws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrationshither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishingJudiciary Powers.He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amountand payment of their salaries.He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass ourpeople and eat out their substance.He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of ourlegislatures.He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, andunacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they shouldcommit on the Inhabitants of these States:For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing thereinan Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an exampleand fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these ColoniesFor taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally theForms of our Governments:For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislatefor us in all cases whatsoever.He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging Waragainst us.He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of ourpeople.He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works ofdeath, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcelyparalleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms againsttheir Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves bytheir Hands.He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on theinhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is anundistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms:Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose characteris thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them fromtime to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. Wehave reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We haveappealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of ourcommon kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connectionsand correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. Wemust, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them,as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress,Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do,
in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish anddeclare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States,that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connectionbetween them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that asFree and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contractAlliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent Statesmay of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protectionof Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacredHonor.
NAME: __________________________ DATE: ___________________ PERIOD: ___ ENLIGHTENMENT IDEAS IN AMERICAFill in the table below while reading through the Declaration of Independence Declaration of Enlightenment Explain the Independence Thinker/Idea connection/importance 1. What are the major reasons America is declaring independence? Would these reasons be an issue in a country with an enlightened despot?
2. After reading through the Declaration of Independence do you feel that the United States was founded on Enlightenment principles? Why or why not?3. Which statement or section of the Declaration of Independence do you feel has most impacted your life and/or American life?4. Do you feel that Enlightenment principles are still alive and part of America today? Explain.